Potty about Potter

Done! Finished! Through!
After one day, two nights and three sittings, I finally finished reading ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows‘. Thanks to a friend, who mailed the soft copy, I got to read it soon after it released, without sweat, except having to grit my teeth and bear with a couple of spelling and grammar errors. Yes, I know, a friend shouted at me, calling me names for not buying the original book and instead reading a pirated copy; it was probably not the right thing to do. But I also know that I didn’t want to buy it here knowing I couldn’t carry it back home. And there was no question of leaving it behind, I do not like and never do donate my books, no matter how inexpensive or small they are, ‘coz the memories tied to them are immeasurably large. There, I’m done with my take on why I read it, the way I did.

And now for the book itself, I wouldn’t want to comment since anything I say might give away what it has in store for those who haven’t read it yet. But I guess JK Rowling has got it right after all, the ending to the saga couldn’t have been more ‘politically correct’. I’ll reserve my other comments for later.

The reason for this post is to answer the question some morons tend to ask– ‘Why do grown-ups read Harry Potter?’ There are several counter-questions that come to mind when I encounter such people…

1. First and foremost, have you ever even tried reading a book? If not, then I guess you can be forgiven ‘coz ‘son, thou know not what thou art talking’!

2. Ok, assuming you read books, have you ever tried reading Harry Potter? If not, then how can you be a judge of how good/ bad it is and for whom it is?

3. Where in God’s name, is the classification that lists the books children should read and those which are for grown-ups? Who gave you the right to categorize books this way? Don’t you love revisiting childhood when you read fairy tales and reciting moral fables to your kids? Isn’t there supposed to be a child hidden in each one of us, no matter how old we grow?

4. What prompted you to single out the Potter series as children’s books? Is it because there is so much imagination and creativity involved in it? In that case, are adults meant to read only stuff which is sans-imagination and does(n’t) require too much activity for the gray cells?

5. Finally, have you ever tried penning down a few lines born out of your own imagination? Forget weaving stories, will you be able to create one fictional character that seems true to life and believable enough to be able to write a couple of incidents revolving around him/ her, which is not ‘inspired’ by any living person’s life? If not, whatever gave you the idea that it is child’s play to create so many fascinating characters and weave a seven book series involving them?

Ok, I agree some of the above lines might sound impassioned. But when people question the need to read a book like Harry Potter, it irritates me no end. Given some thought, as anyone would understand, writing a series like Harry Potter, involving not two, not three but seven books in seven years and continuing to capture the imagination of billions in the world, is no mean task. It just goes to show how novel, intriguing and interesting the plot and characters need to be to get the people coming back for more every time. I can’t think of any other series which has been so popular, in the past decade at least. The beauty of the book lies in the fact that there isn’t any target audience for it; there is no particular section of the populace belonging to a certain age group who need to be catered to. It is and can be read by anyone who enjoys and appreciates the power of imagination, loves creativity at its best.

So people out there, complaining about the ‘Potter-mania’, take a chill pill and go get yourself a copy; may be you might get just as enthused and enthralled about Harry and his antics, like the rest of the world currently is! 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Potty about Potter

  1. Good timing, considering that I was planning to write a post on why I don’t read Harry Potter.

    To answer your questions,
    1. Yes, I have and do read books
    2. I have read the first four Potter books. I will withhold my comments on these for a moment.
    3. Categorization of books into childern’s and grown-up’s was made by the same people who categorized books into mystery, literary fiction, thriller, romantic and non-fiction. Nobody needs a right to categorize books, categorization is all there – just notice it.
    4. I term Harry Potter books as children’s books because it is meant for kids. Ask Rowling – she will tell you who she wrote the book for.
    To answer your second question, adults can and should read books with imagination. Any book needs imagination and creativity. Have you read Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories collection? Full of creativity. Lord of the rings? Do you need more imagination than that? FYI, LOTR was targeted at grown-ups.
    5. I think this question is totally out of context. You need not be a good writer to enjoy reading. You don’t have to be a good actor to enjoy theater, right? That said, yes, I do write and I have a few stories of mine published.

    Ok, so let’s get on with the argument. There are two points you are trying to make and in doing so, you are contradicting yourself. First point is you don’t agree that Potter books are meant for children. Second point is you are defending that grown-ups can read children’s books. So, you are contradicting yourself about Potter not being a children’s book.

    More broadly, what qualifies as a children’s book? What is the difference between Famous Five and Pride and Prejudice? What is the difference between Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie? What is the difference between Harry Potter and LOTR? You answer these questions and you will know whether Potter is a children’s book or not.

    I am all for reading children’s books. I still read Alice in wonderland, Famous Five, fairy tales. I don’t read Harry Potter. Not because it is a children’s book, but I find it extremely repetitive. The first book was a pleasure to read. I was zapped by the author’s imagination. Second one was less surprising. Third one was predictable and the fourth one was plain boring. Yes, the story is there – do you need 500+ pages to tell those stories?

    I see a tinge of guilt in your post. You know you like reading Potter books and you are guilty about it? You are afraid of what others think about grown-ups reading Harry Potter books? I might be wrong, but if this is the case, then there is no need for this post. One is free to read any kind of book one likes. If girls feel ashamed of reading M&B, well, why should others care?

    BTW, what is the ending? Does Voldemort die? 😉

  2. Bijesh, I might be one of those morons, but you are not far behind. Why are you taking the comment personally? Let Anu respond.

  3. Phew! Of late, the comments seem to be getting longer than the posts themselves, thanks to the arguments that they lead to!

    Anamika, you seem to have gotten the gist of my post wrong – I am not trying to take a stand on whether Harry Potter is a children’s book or not. My questions are for people who scoff at me when I say I read Potter, because they presume that it is meant for children alone.

    Speaking of categorization, I agree there are those which you mention but in all those cases there are no restrictions attached to them. Nobody tells you to read mysteries and not read fiction… but in the categorization that I spoke of, people think and insist on arguing that grown-ups shouldn’t read it because it is meant for children.

    Look, I don’t have a problem with what books you read/ don’t read – it’s all a matter of choice. Not everyone likes every kind of book, but doesn’t mean that you jeer at people who like reading stuff that you wouldn’t choose to read.
    And unlike what you say, I have absolutely no guilt about reading Potter. I love reading it just as much as I like reading Austen, Christie, Woodhouse, Blyton etc. If you don’t like reading it, fine, don’t. I’m not even asking you to. To each, his own!

    ps: Please, none of my posts are meant to be taken personally!

  4. Isn’t it a good news for you that people are so interested in your blog that they leave such long comments? I would be gloating, if I were you.

    Ok, got the point and agreed upon. I have already said so in my comment (a very long one at that, I didn’t realize I had written so much), so let me shut up now.

    Thanks for an interesting post.

    PS: I sent you a mail before reading your comment. Would love to get a response from you.

  5. Loved the book and was super pleased with the ending:)
    And personally, I find all Harry Potter books to b simply unputdownable. N Anu, the next time u meet somebody who happens to ask ya tht question,offer them ur heart felt sympathy;coz they know not what they r missing 🙂

  6. 🙂 that ending was written for fans like you Smitha!
    Unputdownable – I agree!
    And yes, I will try that approach the next time… 😀

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